Valentina, a day-walking Black vampire protected from the sun by her melanin, is forced to suppress her bloodlust to regain custody of her estranged daughters in this acclaimed short that played Sundance.

Directed by Nikyatu Jusu
T: @NotNikyatu
IG: @nikyatu

“We often talk about “innovation” in regards to the films we choose to highlight on this site, and while that is often taken to mean new formal techniques or previously unexplored subjects, importantly it can also mean taking familiar ideas and remixing or recontextualizing them within new viewpoints. A fresh and exciting take on the extremely well-trod vampire mythos, Nikyatu Jusu’s acclaimed short film “Suicide by Sunlight” is a fine example of this latter approach, blending a host of diverse inspirations from the genre into something uniquely vibrant for the current moment.

The jumping-off point for Jusu and her co-writer, Robin Shanea Williams, is to imagine race as a pertinent aspect to vampirism, which both challenges traditional Eurocentric depictions, as well as providing a fascinating frame for a whole range of meaty subtextual readings. Inverting blackness away from being a marker of marginalization towards a quality that confers an advantage for vampires when integrating with “normal” society is at once a simple hook, but also rich in thematic potential, and Jusu does not hesitate to dive deeply into the implications, parallels and lingering limitations of the premise within this 17min short—designed as a proof-of-concept for a proposed television series. While the enormous success of Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) has proven an appetite for smart horror/fantasy with a social conscience, genre fans wary of high-brow incursions into the form have nothing to fear—Jusu does not forget to dish out a healthy serving of blood and sex in order to satisfy our baser desires.

Set in a contemporary New York City where vampirism is an acknowledged condition by society, the film focuses on Valentina, a vampire who is granted, by the melanin in her skin, the ability to endure sunlight. With this freedom Valentina is better able to blend into normal society, working as a pediatric nurse at a hospital during the day while at night she is free to pursue her carnal nature. This duality to her character, as both a caretaker and a violent predator, is a fascinating contradiction and directly bleeds into an even greater division of personality—between a vampire and a mother.” – S/W Curator, Jason Sondhi

Valentina – Natalie Paul
Langston – Motell Foster
Kira – Alexis Nichole Smith
Pastor – Souleymane Sy Savane
Faith – Madison Spicer
Hope – Juniah Williams-West
Micah – Destin Khari
Micah’s Mom – Ellie Foumbi
Dr. Khadir – Teren Carter

Director – Nikyatu Jusu
Writers – Nikyatu Jusu + Robin Shanea Williams Producer – Nikkia Moulterie
Executive Producer – Terence Nance
Casting Directors – Emily Fleischer + Susan Shopmaker
Cinematographer – Daisy Zhou
Production Designer – Alison Melillo
Editors – Kristan Sprague + Marina Katz
Costume Designer – Sarah Williams Assistant
Key Hair and Make up / SFX Artist – Risha Rox Hair
Composer – Omar Ferrer
Sound Services – Sound on Set
Sound Design + Sound Mixer – Jose Villaman
Visual Effects by – Wild Union Visual Effects
Colorist – Kath Raisch

Subscribe to S/W on YouTube! Website: Instagram:… Facebook: Twitter: